Using Twitter in Microsoft Outlook

As social networking sites gain momentum, the question arises how to integrate content and information from sites like Twitter into popular client side communication tools like Microsoft Outlook.

Fortunately, with third party Outlook add-in applications like TwInbox (formerly known as OutTwit) available from TechHit, Outlook can become a full featured Twitter client.

For those unfamiliar with Twitter, here’s a quick summary of the social networking tool. Like a mini-blog, Twitter lets you post short and relatively real time updates that are viewable by your fellow peers or “followers” on Twitter. The process of finding followers is another discussion, but in short, Twitter lets you say things to other people who want to hear what you’re doing.

Unlike email, your “tweets” or posts are not sent from mailbox to mailbox. Rather, they are posted to a database similar to posts in an online forum, bulletin board or a blog. Twitter has the potential to transfer general information like updates or notifications more effectively than email.

Take for example the online merchant who wants to notify a customer base of an online coupon code. Instead of sending out thousands of email notifications, a large percentage of which would probably be lost to spam filtering, a single tweet from the merchant is instantly heard by anyone who is logged into Twitter and following the store.

But what if I am not logged in to Twitter, how do I know about the coupon code? Twitter has a built in preference to notify you of tweets by email. But this defeats the purpose of a real time posting tool, kind of like printing up hard copies of all your email messages. Provided you use Outlook, TwInbox elegantly solves the problem of getting the information from Twitter to you and posts it in your mail client much like an RSS feed.

But TwInbox isn’t a read-only tool. It handily lets you use Outlook’s Reply and Reply to All buttons to send out Twitter direct messages and @replies. If you’re an Outlook user looking to speed up your Twitter communications, TwInbox will be a huge timesaver. Check out TwInbox online.